February 20, 2013
The go-to white wine for Asian BYOB restaurants long has been gewurztraminer because "it is spicy, like the food." Match the flavors, says the advice.
But the "gewurz" in the grape's name doesn't signify flavor; it means "aromatic." Matching aromas isn't food and wine pairing because the action happens on the tongue, not in the nose.
The best wines for Asian cooking deal with the various food elements in the dish, things such as fat (the oils here), salt (soy sauce, shrimp) and chili heat. That suggests wines, both white and red, that boast solid acidity and moderate alcohol.
The food: Chili-soy shrimp stir-fry
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 cloves garlic, minced; cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add 1 pound shell-on large shrimp; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Asian chili paste and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, tossing with shrimp to coat well. Stir-fry until the shrimp are just cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly to glaze the shells, 3-4 minutes. Makes: 4 servings
2010 Erath Winery Estate Selection, Willamette Valley, Oregon: Not particularly hefty, as pinot noir should be, hence perfect here; fragrant of red cherry and brown spice; great closing acidity. $30-$35
2011 Reuling Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast: Deeper, more intense than many 2011s, with red fruit meat on the bones of terrific acidity; flecks of spice, mineral and earth; super smooth finish. $70
2011 La Bergerie l'Hortus Blanc, Languedoc, France: From one of the stellar properties of the region, a mix of five white grapes, nearly half roussanne and its zesty, refreshing acidity; juicy, smooth, aromatic, delicious. $18-$20
— Bill St. John, special to Tribune Newspapers
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